A few days before I sat down to write this month’s column, I was at dinner with my daughter and son-in-law, when the latter excitedly announced to the table that the first Saints game was less than 100 days away. (For those wondering, the first regular season game is at noon on Sunday, September 11.) As a recent New Orleans transplant, he has taken his new role as a local sports fan very seriously.
Living in a state where sports (and football, in particular) is such a large part of the culture, I know there are sports fans with season tickets who want their families to enjoy the tickets after they are gone. As are many things that fall under the estate planning realm, passing on these tickets may not be simple.
Getting season tickets to your favorite sport is not always an easy task to begin with. Season tickets for some teams can cost a lot of money and require time on a waitlist. It makes sense that you may want family or friends to be able to take advantage of tickets that are still usable after you pass away. However, most teams place limits on how you can transfer the tickets both before and after death.
A season ticket is a contract between the purchaser and the team, so the team can put any restrictions it wishes in the contract. This includes setting limits on when and how the tickets can be transferred to someone else. Teams may explicitly state that the tickets cannot be transferred by will or trust, allow transfers only to a spouse or close family members, or require that ticket holders follow certain procedures in order to transfer the tickets.
For example, some teams have a form that you will need to fill out, designating a beneficiary to inherit your tickets. Other teams state that only a spouse can use a deceased fan’s season tickets. Still others allow transfers only to a parent, spouse, child, or sibling. If there is no surviving family member who can take over the tickets, the tickets go back to the team.
For the fans in south Louisiana, here are the general rules to pass on Tigers or Saints tickets:
For LSU fans, the University’s Athletic Department states that when a ticket holder passes away, the surviving spouse will automatically become the new ticket holder. “The surviving spouse must notify the ticket office with a notarized letter and copy of death certificate to have the name changed on the account. If there is no surviving spouse, the Athletics Department will offer the option to renew tickets to a surviving child if provided with a notarized and uncontested request by the child to be the season ticket holder of record. If there is no surviving child, the transfer will be made to a surviving grandchild if provided with a notarized and uncontested request by the grandchild to be the season ticket holder of record.” It does not appear that LSU allows transfers to non-family members.
As far as I can tell, the New Orleans Saints don’t have a similar procedure in place for when a season ticket holder passes. According to their policy, “a [request form] may be submitted by the Executor or Administrator of the deceased’s estate and include official evidence of their capacity as Executor or Administrator as well as a certified copy of the death certificate and a signed Judgment of Possession.” The form also states that transfer requests are only accepted through May 31 for an upcoming season, at which point any transfer requests would have to be re-submitted the following off-season.
While this isn’t true for the Saints, note that some teams require fans to purchase a seat license or make a contribution to a booster organization before buying season tickets. This means the fan pays a fee to buy a license for particular seats and then has the right to buy season tickets for those seats. A seat license, unlike season tickets, is typically transferable via a will or trust, although the rules vary among teams.
If you own season tickets, be sure to include them in your estate planning. Your attorney can determine the best way to transfer the tickets to ensure your loved ones can remain cheering on your favorite teams for years to come.
The information provided is not intended to be legal or tax advice and does not constitute any attorney/client relationship. You should consult with an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.
Ms. Melancon is an attorney with Legacy Estate & Elder Law of Louisiana, LLC with offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lake Charles, LA. The primary focus of her practice is estate planning, probate, special needs planning, and elder law. For more information or to attend an upcoming estate planning seminar, call her office at (225) 744-0027.